Community

Well Hello There Again…

Compost bins

So it’s been almost a month and my blog edits and updates are almost done.  I know that WordPress has been sending notifications every time I update an old post, and for this I’m sorry.  I haven’t been able to figure out how to turn those notifications off.  Some of the updates have been very minor, and it is annoying me that the updates are getting shown.  Hopefully you have enjoyed some of my old posts.

The main thing I was doing was taking some of my more personal posts down.  I was beginning to feel that my family, my kids in particular, were too exposed here on this blog.  There are still pictures and some anecdotes about them here on LazyHomesteader.com, because I feel that us being a family with young children is an important thing to show and a part of our story.  But the posts of their first steps, birthdays and other non-homestead related milestones have been removed.  Over 150 posts.

I started this blog six years ago, shortly after our oldest was born.  I had no idea at that time what our “little chicken experiment” would morph into.

I’m excited to share with you what has been going on with us here in Texas.  We have met some new people and our neighborhood actually has quite a few other chicken keepers.  Exciting!

With the move, however, I find myself going back to some basics when it comes to food.  Reading labels, menu planning, finding ways to reduce energy bills (oh how that A/C runs the bill up!).  I’m looking forward to catching up with you!

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Categories: Community | 3 Comments

Adapting in Place… Somewhere Else

Last year in March, Rick’s company offered him a promotion which we initially turned down.  It involved a move across the country and we weren’t really interested in relocating at that time.  They begged him to reconsider and flew the both of us in to check out the area.  I have to admit, visiting the farmers market in the first week of June to find these…  well, let’s just say Adam’s fruit wasn’t nearly so tempting.

Texas Toms in June!

Some of you might know of Sharon Astyk and have read her concept of Adapting in Place.  It’s a concept that we’ve been working toward achieving for a long time here.  All last summer we confronted the question of how to adapt in place when you don’t know where that place is/will be next year.  And really, is it wise to give up all the work we’ve done here and move to a completely new climate?  Questioning, questioning, questioning.

Rick liked the job and we both thought we could like the area, but we were also fearful of such a large change and leaving “our tribe.”  Rick put together a proposal detailing what we would need to move out there; he aimed high figuring that if he got it, it would be worth it.  We spent the summer doing projects around the house preparing to move, preparing not to move, on pins and needles, only to have them turn him down in August.

Serious peaches in June

When we were turned down we were disappointed, but also relieved.  Both of us were born and raised here in Colorado.  All of our families are here (well, most of mine, I have a few scattered about).  And I have finally been feeling connected to my community here.  So many good friends have been made in the last year.

Fast forward to last week.  They called Rick back, and after some negotiating offered him more than he originally asked for last year.  The first guy they hired instead of Rick had to quit for health reasons, and the next guy has not been able to do the job.  All of this is to say we are going to be packing up the homestead and moving to San Antonio, Texas.

In less than six weeks.

Pearl Farmer's Market

It feels silly to say that this is really unexpected for us.  Last year, we spent a lot of time getting our heads and hearts prepared for a potential move across the country (not to mention the house).  We knew all along that Rick was right for the position and we knew his bosses knew it too.  We actually were surprised when he didn’t get the job after everything.

But now…  now… well now we are packing up everything we own and trying to find a place to rent in a city we’ve visited one time.

Everything we’ve heard about San Antonio has been a mixed bag.  Some love and others hate it.  I feel a bit like Rapunzel in the movie Tangled.  You know… filled with glee one moment and sobbing the next.  But a good friend reminded me that there are good things everywhere.  Thankfully, we’ve heard more good things than bad, and I know this is going to be a big adventure for our family. Ultimately, we are very excited.

Puffy Taco from Taco Taco

We are sad about leaving behind our friends and families and neighbors.  Of course, the beautiful Rockies.  We’re a bit fearful about starting over with gardening and homesteading and community.  I am sad to be leaving my new friends in my homeschooling group and all the friends we’ve made doing the potlucks.  However, I’m finding that I’m sad about leaving behind some things that I did not expect to feel so attached to.

My beautiful garlic that I’ve been saving and growing for the last three years.  It’s already starting to come up in it’s bed full of lovely soil that we’ve built up over nine years here.  The soil.  So much work has gone into building it up.  My compost bins, both full of nearly finished compost.  Just a little TLC when the warm weather hits and it will become black gold.

Our next door neighbor who dug up half his lawn to let us plant potatoes and carrots and onions.  He doesn’t even eat them.  The two cherry trees we discovered half a block from our house on city property… right when I was this close to planting my own.  The pick-your-own peach orchard on the Western slope.  All the digging and tilling and hoeing and digging.  This is the place I first felt that real connection to my food and the earth and, well, everything.  Everything!

Texan tree

On the flip side, there are things that we are really looking forward to.  A fresh start, a new neighborhood (maybe one with lots of families or at least a park).  Maybe a second bathroom and a guest room.  Picking a new house with a bigger yard and the potential to grow more food, year-round.  Did you guys see that there were tomatoes AND peaches in JUNE!?!?!?

So what does this mean for the blog?  Well, I’ve had a long list of topics that are half written about.  Some will need a bit of revision to fit our new situation.  Expect to see them pop up here and there in the next two months.  But I make no promises.

Us.  In Texas.

We’re pretty much scrambling to pull off a cross-country move with five people in less than six weeks.  We have found a home for our bees and potential home(s) for the chickens.  We will rent in San Antonio for at least a year, so we will not be taking them with us.  We think we’re going to sell the house.  If we can.  Oh, and did I mention that Rick will be flying back and forth between Texas and Denver and will be gone for 2.5 of those six weeks?  Yeah.

So if it’s quiet for a while, please understand why.  And if you live in South Texas and have any tips for a gardener moving from zone 5a to zone 8b…. please share them.  I’m going to need all the help I can get.  It’s snowing in Denver while it’s a sunny 81° in January there.  Yee-Haw!

Categories: Community, Urban Homesteading | 18 Comments

What to Expect from the Lazy Homesteader in 2013

I’ve thought pretty hard about the “resolutions” I want to share on the blog for this year.  I’ve had a hard time thinking of specific goals, and I’m not really into the “lose twenty pounds” type of resolutions.  I’ve decided that instead of goals I wanted to focus on some themes that are both personal to me and yet very applicable to the homesteading way of life.

This year, you can expect to see posts (hopefully weekly, realistically a couple of times a month) having to do with one or two of the following themes.

Rick hikng with C on his backCommunity – In 2012, I established a monthly potluck to help build community.  I made some new friends and built connections.  In 2013 I want to do this more.  I want more connection, more real relationships.  I have realized that no one can live this life alone.  We need each other and I want more of it.  I have a challenge in mind for this theme this year.  I’m excited about it, though it’s going to be a tough one.

Preparedness – Colorado had the worst wild-fire of all time in 2012.  There were hurricanes on the East coast.  For much of the country, there were record heat waves and drought.  Across the country there were poor harvest and food prices are on the rise.  I’m not a panicky or prepper or anything like that, but I have started thinking about the benefits of being prepared in a real emergency.

Thrift – Expect to see more DIY posts this year.  From homemade to making-do to doing without, I plan to share more thrifty ideas this year.

Food Connections – This is the thing that sent me down the homesteading path all those years ago; being connected to our food.  I have plans to share about sustainable food sources, processing your own meat (including wild game and hunting), and of course the garden.  This year I am going to explore as many aspects of food connection as I can.  I hope to close some of the gaps we’ve had in our own food sources as well.

Grace – This year I plan to go easier on myself.  You guys know I love a crazy goal.  But I also need a little more balance, and my kids certainly need a sane mommy.  So I plan to cut myself a little slack this year.  I’ve realized that this journey to being green and crunchy and self-sufficient is just that, a journey.  I don’t have to do it all at once.  It’s ok to take small steps and find what is feasible for our family.  I’m not throwing the baby out with the grey water or anything, but I am going to focus more on things like simplicity, peace, and well, the categories mentioned above.  :)

I’m really looking forward to 2013 and what it will bring.  And I’m excited to share our homestead with you as always.

Categories: Community, DIY, Simple Living, Thrift, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

2012 Resolutions Revisited

It’s the winter solstice.  The days are going to get longer and spring is on the way.  2012, you have gone by so quickly.

Around this time last year I set out a few resolutions for 2012.  Here’s a recap of what those were:

  1. Grow a giant pumpkin. 
  2. Grow enough in our own neighborhood gardens to feed ourselves for the summer.
  3. Process chickens.  
  4. Harvest Honey. 
  5. Start a monthly potluck circle.

So how did we do with those?  Well, we tried to grow the pumpkin.  We planted it, we watered it, we fed it compost tea.  But it only got to about the size of a volley ball.  So next year, we will have to try again.

Number two, well… not quite yet.  We’ll keep on that road.  We did process chickens this year, as well as harvest our own honey, though.

HHarvest10

The potluck.  We started the monthly potluck in February.  We have hosted one every month since then except in June (kids were all sick) and November (we were out of town, hunting).  And this is one resolution we are definitely keeping up with.

I’m still thinking over what my resolutions for the new year will be.  Do you have any resolutions for yourself yet?  How about ideas for me?  Something you want to see me try?

Categories: Community, Garden, Sustainability, Top 5, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

2012 DBG Urban Homestead Tour – Part III

I’m excited to show off the last three stops we were able to get on during last month’s Denver Botanic Garden’s Urban Homestead Tour.  These three homesteads were in the heart of the city.

Toni and Dennis Kuper shared their wonderful coop with visitors.  Two years ago, Toni asked for chickens for Mother’s Day, and Dennis built the coop for her.   It is adorable and efficient.

I love how they designed it to store their chicken care supplies right inside.  It is adjacent to their dog run under a stand of shady trees in their beautiful back yard.  They have an annual chicken party for friends and coworkers in their yard.

The Kuper’s yard is mostly shaded, but they have a lovely garden carved out in the only sunshine near the garage.  I especially love the four-bin compost operation.

Our next stop took us into the Park Hill area, where we got to check out Michael Murphy’s coop and gardens.  The first thing we saw was squash and cukes inter-planted with flowers in his front yard.

The side and back yard held lovely raised beds with some great whimsy.  I love the brightly painted stakes and bird houses.

Murph made his coop primarily of recycled/re-purposed materials, and I’ve never seen anything like it.

There are two dogloos inside the chicken run.  But I just can’t describe what I thought when Murph showed us how he set them up for the neighbor kids to gather eggs.  See for yourself…

The igloos are on giant lazy-susans, and inside each dogloo is two coolers/nest boxes.

The hens both lay and roost in the coolers.  The system is warm in the winter and easy to keep clean.

The coolers just slide out for egg collection or cleaning.

I love the engineering behind this coop and how much fun it is.

The last stop I wanted to share was literally packed full of growing things.  The Blackett’s were the only homesteaders on the tour with a yard smaller than ours.

Driving up, you can see they had food growing in the hell strip between the sidewalk and the street.  A lot of people refuse to plant here, but I love that they have turned it into a garden.

We walked down the side yard where the Blackett’s keep their chickens and compost bin.

The little red coop is built from scrap wood, left over from a previous project.

The side yard gives way to an entire back yard garden.  I mean, the entire yard.  There was no grass anywhere – just a path between all the food growing.

Diane was on the back porch, generously giving out samples of honey from her top bar beehive.  The hive was at the very back of their lot, next to the garage, under the grape-vine.

I was very inspired by Diane’s garden.  Rick and I had been feeling a little jealous about all the space that many of the homesteaders had.  But Diane was growing more food than we were, in less space.  It was very encouraging.

Diane blogs about her garden, bees, chickens and homesteading at City Garden Bliss.  She has many more beautiful photos of her garden and covers topics like spinning, knitting, gleaning, and sewing as well as gardening, bee, and chicken keeping.

Thank you for letting me share the stops we went to at this year’s urban homestead tour.  I hope you enjoyed it.  I can’t wait until next year!  This was so fun for our whole family.

Make sure to check out the photos of the other stops in Part I and Part II.

Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Community, Garden, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

2012 DBG Urban Homestead Tour – Part II

The next two stops on the Denver Botanic Gardens Urban Homestead Tour that I want to share were two of my favorites.

Lori in Aurora was growing a great variety of vegetables.  In the circle in her front drive way she had many varieties of winter squash, summer squash, cucumbers and melons.   She was very generous and gave us two good sized spaghetti squash to take home.

In her back yard, she was growing in raised beds.

Her kale and tomatoes were fantastic, and we exchanged tips on season extension and overwintering greens.

But Lori had something completely different up her sleeves.  Aeroponic gardening.  Her website explains this a lot better than I can, but basically you can grow a large amount a vegetables in a very small space in about half the time as traditional in-ground gardening.

Above is a newly planted tower garden.  It holds water in the reservoir at the bottom.  The water is pumped through the tower which both waters and oxygenates the plants.  It can be plugged in to a regular outlet or converted to solar.

Below you can see water pumping through the tower.  We lifted the lid at the very top of a full-grown tower to see.

This tower was planted July 27th.  The photo was taken September 22nd.  Look at the size of that melon in only 8 weeks!

This would be an incredible option for those wanting to grow a sizable garden in a very small space (apartment dwellers, perhaps).  Also great for those who can’t do a lot of bending.  It is all grown vertically – the tower stands about five feet tall and is on rollers.

This tower is growing greens in the heat of the summer, a tomato plant, cucumbers and heirloom watermelon all in an area of 2.5 x 2.5 feet.  The towers are a bit spendy, but they do use water and space very efficiently, and the company offers payment plans.  This was the second planting of the summer for Lori and her family in this tower.

Check out Lori’s website for more info on aeroponic growing:  DenverTowerGarden.com

Where Lori’s gardens are so compact, Brenda and David Zserdin’s garden is completely opposite.

Up in old Lakewood, the Zserdin’s are growing on a half-acre, a very eclectic and sprawling mini-Eden.   Their little white coop houses 24 chickens, a mix of Bantams and full-size hens and roosters.

Inside the coop is a tree-branch roost that runs the length of the whole left-hand wall.  On the right are nest boxes, feed and water and space to store supplies.  The Zserdin’s had to give this coop a little TLC to make it warm enough for the winter by adding insulation and heat lamps.

It’s easy to see that Brenda and David’s birds are spoiled and happy.

H and E quickly found a friend in the Zserdin’s son, who also happened to be wearing a cape that day.  They ran off to play while we toured the homestead.

Their garden is just amazing.  Lots of re-purposed materials for garden structures as well as fun decorative elements make it a joy to walk through.

I loved the pole beans growing on actual poles and walking over wooden planks, past the cukes and melons trellised on old pallet wood.

Vegetables were planted in a tractor tire, old tubs and in the ground.  We wound our way through the tomatoes to the grape vines at the back of the garden.

Rick was quick to spot the Three Sisters planting among the extensive culinary and medicinal herbs that Brenda has growing.

I was in love with the compost bin set-up they had.

Brenda and I found a lot of common ground talking about chickens, homeschooling and preserving the harvest by canning and freezing.  David and Rick hit it off too, talking wood cutting, home brewing and whatever else men talk about while their women are off discussing the merits of sand for litter in the chicken area.

David and Brenda work from home doing an embroidery and screen printing business, Flutterby Designs, as well as homeschool their children.  The Zserdin’s were very gracious hosts.  They chatted and offered snacks and drinks and made us feel completely at home, like old friends.  We exchanged phone numbers and email and are excited to count them as new ones.

Later this week, I’ll show you the last three stops that we were able to get to on the tour.  In the mean time, make sure to explore the photos I posted in Part I.

Categories: Chickens, Community, Garden, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments

2012 DBG Urban Homestead Tour – Part I

Two weekends ago was the first annual Denver Botanic Gardens’ Urban Homestead Tour.  I was able to go on the tour and be a community sponsor.  It was so much fun to see what others around Denver were doing at their homes.  Each home that we visited was doing something different, and I thought everyone else might be as interested as I was to see our movement moving in the Mile High City.

The first homestead that we visited were neighbors of ours… we could have walked there, but I had no idea this place existed.  We live in an urban area.  Our lot is pretty small (in fact only two of the places we visited had lots as small or smaller than ours).  So I was surprised to come upon the gem that Leigh and Diana have created in my ‘hood.

Leigh is quite the craftsman.  He built the house on the acreage (!) himself, including the above green house.  The big trees were all on the property already, but the cherry, peach, plum and apple trees were all planted by the Bray’s.

Inside the green house they are growing bananas, among many other beautiful plants that we’d never get to survive otherwise in Colorado.

The Bray’s purchased the property from an elderly neighbor (Leigh said she told him she’d never sell), they worked with the city to narrow a portion of the ditch from 20 feet wide to 8 feet wide and at the same time got a the lane behind their property turned from a road into a walking path.

The Bray’s have a large garden area.  The older garden is in the background, and a newly dug garden, for 2013 is in the foreground.

Beyond the trees is where the ditch flows.  Calling it a ditch seems silly – it’s a beautiful, clean creek banked by green grass.  They even have two bridges over it and a little row-boat.  The bee hives are on the other side.  I wish I had taken a picture of it.

The Bray’s invited my boys to use the rope swing over it; I didn’t let them, it was our first stop.  But they did take them up on the offer to play in their tree house and zip-line in the yard.

The Bray’s daughter (pictured with my little super hero-cowboys) convinced her parents to get chickens.

Leigh naturally built the coop himself.  It’s a great design; wired for brooding chicks and a heat lamp for the winter.  Egg boxes that are easily accessible and a fully enclosed run.

See that second coop in the far background?  (click on the picture for a better view).  Leigh and Diana sell the coops that Leigh makes.  They offer three fully assembled sizes to house from 2 to 12 hens, AND free delivery up to 50 miles from Denver.  They can even be rigged with solar panels to power the lights.  Check out their website: chickencoopsofcolorado.com

The next stop took us into the heart of downtown Denver.  Matt McClusky of Foodie Call Catering opened his 2500 square foot garden to visitors.

Matt is using his lot to its fullest.  I loved the hanging tomato plants all along his porch at the front of his house.

Just beyond the fence, all along the front of the house Matt has veggies growing:

If you walk around the side of the house, you’ll see how he keeps pest out of the garden and nutrients in.  My boys were totally scared of the scarecrow, and this is just one of the many compost bins I photographed on the tour.

All along the North side of Matt’s property, he was growing a lush vegetable garden.  I lost track of how many varieties, which included beautiful eggplant and broccoli plants taller than Henry.

Here you can see how he uses trellises along the fence line.

And here are more beds running the full length of his lot.

Finally, here are the super tall pole beans with a beautiful herb garden growing at the base.

The gardens and homesteads we saw on the tour were just amazing.  This is the first of three posts that I plan to share about the tour.  I’m so grateful that all the participants agreed to let me photograph and share their homesteads here, as well as opening their yards to the public.

Edit:  I mistakenly stated in my original post that the Bray family had the city ditch moved, however, the ditch was hand dug in 1863 and it has been in the same place since that time.  Instead, the Bray’s worked with the city to narrow the ditch at the corner of their property back to its original size (8 feet wide) as stated above.  I apologize for my mistake. 

Categories: Beekeeping, Chickens, Community, Garden, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Denver Botanic Gardens Urban Homestead Tour

I’m excited to announce the first (and hopefully, annual) Denver Botanic Gardens Urban Homestead Tour.  Check out the tour photo (featuring Rick in the bee suit and E with one of our hens) along with the official press release below.

DENVER – Denver Botanic Gardens will host its 2012 Urban Homestead Tour of Denver and surrounding communities. The tour aims to inform, educate and inspire the community by featuring a variety of traditional and innovative efforts in the urban homesteading movement.

Local homesteaders all throughout the Denver metro area will open the doors of their homes to provide guests with an opportunity to see what urban homesteading is all about. Come prepared to be surprised because “urban homesteading is not only growing vegetables in your yard and raising chickens. It also includes activities like canning, making soap and using alternative energy sources in your home,” says Sundari Kraft, author of “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Urban Homesteading” and founder of EatWhereULive, one of the community supporters of the tour.

CALL FOR ENTRIES: Urban homesteaders who want to participate as a tour stop, share their efforts, their joys and their experiences with the public can find information and applications at www.botanicgardens.org

The tour, which counts with the support of community partners like Anisa Schell, author of the LazyHomesteader.com, and Lisa Rogers, founder and director of Feed Denver, is completely self-guided.  Participants are encouraged to drop-by whatever locations they see fit from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tour map sales will begin Aug. 22nd and tour participants will receive them starting on Sept. 19th.

Date and Time:
Saturday, September 22
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Admission:
$5 per person
Ticket sales start August 22
For more information and to register visit www.botanicgardens.org

About Denver Botanic Gardens:
Green inside and out, the Gardens is considered one of the top botanical gardens in the United States and a pioneer in water conservation. Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the Gardens’ living collections encompass specimens from the tropics to the tundra, showcasing a plant palette chosen to thrive in Colorado’s semi-arid climate. The Gardens’ dynamic, 23-acre urban oasis in the heart of the city is now in its 52nd year, offering unforgettable opportunities to flourish with unique garden experiences for the whole family – as well as world-class education and plant conservation research programs. Additional sites at Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, a 750-acre wildlife and native plant refuge in Jefferson County; and Mount Goliath, a high-altitude trail and interpretive site on the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, extend this experience throughout the Front Range. For more information, visit us online at http://www.botanicgardens.org.

I’m really excited to be working with Denver Botanic Gardens to bring more awareness about urban homesteading to the community through this event.  We all hope it’s a huge success.  If you’re a local, this is your chance to see other urban homesteads up close.  Mark your calendar!

Make sure to click through to the other community supporter links:

EatWhereULive
Feed Denver

Categories: Community, Urban Homesteading | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

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